Extra: Inside Nintendo’s New, Improved Qualifiers

On August 29, 2017 by Jason Rechtman

Extra: Extra: Nintendo's New, Improved Qualifiers

The Nintendo World Championships aren’t exactly what you’d call consistent. They first took place in 1990, went on a 15-year hiatus until 2015, and are are coming back again after a notably shorter two-year gap. Yet as infrequent as the tournament may be, that isn’t stopping Nintendo from going all-out when they do choose to host it. This year, the finals will take place in New York City for the first time, coinciding with early October’s New York Comic-Con. And the qualifiers that determine who’s going to those finals? Well, they blow 2015’s right out of the water. We swung by the Los Angeles qualifiers at our local Best Buy in Torrance, CA, and to say we were impressed would be an understatement. Below, we share impressions and photos of the event.

For those who attended the 2015 qualifiers or read our coverage of the event, you know it was a relatively simple affair. You showed up, competed in Ultimate NES Remix on 3DS handhelds laid out on a circle of folding tables, and got some miscellaneous freebies for competing. This year, Nintendo improved upon every single aspect. Most notable was of course the qualifier itself. Instead of lasting one day, it was two. Instead of capping participation at 750 people, anyone could enter at any time, split into ‘Under 12’ and ‘Over 13’ age brackets. And instead of running through a string Ultimate NES Remix challenges on 3DS, competitors raced through Mario Kart 7 time trials on either the DS Luigi’s Mansion or GBA Bowser Castle 1 tracks. Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t an improvement per say, but when the ‘Over 13’ champion won by a mere 50 milliseconds over the runner-up, you can’t deny it still makes for some heated competition.

For a qualifier, that’s really all you need. But Nintendo didn’t stop there. Gone were the folding tables draped in Nintendo-branded tablecloths, instead replaced with a full fledged booth. On one side, the 2DS XLs dedicated to Mario Kart 7. On the other, demos of upcoming games. In a move that felt reminiscent of Nintendo’s old E3 @ Best Buy events, the public was able to go hands-on with the upcoming Super Mario Odyssey, and for the first time, Metroid: Samus Returns. One wait in a 45-minute line would get you back-to-back ten minute demos of each, plus you walked away with posters for each game, stamped with a foil Nintendo World Championships logo. Competing in the main tournament would also get you a Mario Kart 7 poster (also stamped), while checking in via My Nintendo net you an exclusive My Nintendo pin and 200 platinum coins on the service.

Simply put, Nintendo stepped it up across the board, from the setup to the swag to the addition of upcoming game demos. Time will tell if the finals in New York see a similar boost, but even if they stay the same as 2015’s, we’re in for a good show come October. Until then, check out the photos below for a taste of the qualifiers, and stay tuned for additional impressions in our next podcast episode.

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